Thursday, September 3, 2015

Rainer Maria Rilke: "Part Two, XII" ["Want the change"]

Want the change.  Be inspired by the flame
where everything shines as it disappears.
The artist, when sketching, loves nothing so much
as the curve of the body as it turns away.

What locks itself in sameness has congealed.
Is it safer to be gray and numb?
What turns hard becomes rigid
and is easily shattered.

Pour yourself out like a fountain.
Flow into the knowledge that what you are seeking
finishes often at the start, and, with ending, begins.

Every happiness is the child of a separation
it did not think it could survive.  And Daphne, becoming 
       a laurel,
dares you to become the wind.

"Part Two, XII" ["Want the change"], from The Sonnets to Orpheus by  Rainer Maria Rilke. Text as published in In Praise of Mortality: Selected Poems from Rainer Maria Rilke's Duino Elegies and Sonnets to Orpheus, translated from the original German and edited by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy (Riverhead, 2005). Reprinted with permissions of the editors.

Read the original German on page 116 of this online source. 

Art credit: "Windmill in a Windy Wheatfield, wallpaper by


  1. "Pour yourself out like a fountain..." A wonderful way to invite everyone to write poetry. It's delightful to think that words can be poured....and some words splash....

  2. Replies
    1. Please see the link to the German in the poem notes. Stay well. Deep peace,

  3. Every happiness is the child of a separation
    it did not think it could survive.

    That's a truth that is hard to remember in the midst of those separations. Beautifully expressed.


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